Author Archive

April 3rd, 2018

What happened to my job applications?

by AskSage


As a former CFO, I’ve sent out 6,000+ job applications over 2 years w/o much success. They simply thanked me for submitting my resume and few invited me to an interview (albeit, none offered a job).

Where are my job applications? Are they being read?

Best, Ken


First of all, I’m very sorry for your experience, which unfortunately has become the new norm for most of us. On average, recruiters today receive more than 3,000 job applications for every advertised senior-level-executive position. No-one can sort through this onslaught of data. Most recruiters are ‘boiling them down’ via electronic key word search, so they end up with some 30 (0.01% of all submitted) résumés.

They then read the first paragraphs of each to find out if the summary of qualifications meets what the client company is looking for. Typically they are not interested in interviewing more than 15 or so via telephone (0.005%) and it’s only those who normally get some sort of notification. The rest goes into/stays in one big database…

The issue is obvious: Too many (qualified) candidates and not enough positions. The solution is to have a ‘Plan B’ to corporate (un-) employment.



May 10th, 2012

Success Is A Habit

by AskSage

Dear Reader,

I’m often asked by friends/colleagues/candidates who wish to start their own business (and my own children) what makes people successful (as entrepreneurs, employees, executives etc.) and if I believe they have ‘what it takes’ -or whether a particular business (model) would be successful (for them).

To me this always begs three questions:

  • What is success?
  • What have  successful people in common (in business, their respective professions, as friends, parents, husbands and wives)? And the most important question of all:
  • How does one become successFUL?

I found what helps finding and understanding the answers to these three questions is by reading two rather remarkable articles, written by the same author:

So now you’ve read these articles, here are some truths that are important to understand and own to be(come) successful:

  • Success is simply achieving one’s goals/dreams.
  • Successful people will do what is necessary to accomplish their goals/dreams.
  • We tend to call people “successful’ when they have achieved something that is either perceived as extraordinary (different from the norm) or if they have achieved something we want to achieve for ourselves.
  • Unsuccessful people on the other hand (will) always find excuses why they “couldn’t do it” and don’t take responsibility for their own (non-)actions. They blame others or ‘circumstances’ for their misfortune in order to avoid taking responsibility and ownership.
  • Successful people identify the challenges that block their (path to) success and either remove or find a way around them. They develop a habit of not giving up and do what needs to be done to accomplish their goals. It’s that simple.

When we look at the meaning of the word “Habit” it is commonly defined as:

  • custom
  • tendency
  • addiction
  • routine
  • tradition
  • pattern

To me both articles conclude that it is not (academic) education or social upbringing which determine success (later) in life (though they certainly help), but developing a constant habit of doing what is necessary to get there. Once that routine/habit is established, it becomes second nature and success is nothing but a logical follower and consequence of those habits.

That is not only true for professional, but also for private success. When the wife of the late Beatle George Harrison was asked how she was able to stay married facing George’s numerous affairs, she responded ‘by not getting a divorce”. While I agree that this might not be the best example for a successful marriage, it does point out that success is a habit and we all can develop it –at any time of our life.

Unsuccessful people on the other hand are simply not wiling to develop these habits. The say “It’s too hard, it’s too much work, I cannot do it, the market has changed, the economy is against me, the business model doesn’t work, I am discriminated against because of…., my life/business partner makes it impossible for me” etc. etc.

The truth is we all face difficult circumstances in our lives. But we have a choice whether we want those circumstances to limit our lives and future accomplishments or not. No matter our upbringing, the color of our skin, our religious beliefs, the lack of capital, etc. etc.

Unsuccessful people prefer to blame their lack of success on circumstances they cannot control instead of taking ownership and finding a way to make it work and not giving up. The majority of the population in any country is like that. That is why we have a very small percentile being “successful”.

Success doesn’t come easy. We must want and do it. No money or experience needed (although those help). Just pure desire and making it a habit to overcome.

Success is a habit. Be(come) successful my friend!

Sincerely, Sage

PS: The little bit of wisdom I shared with you above is not based on any (religious or political) belief systems I might or might not have have, but are solely based on observations from hiring/leading hundreds of employees and personally helping even more to become successful business owners.


February 10th, 2012

Is the American Sprit broken?

by AskSage

Hi Sage,

I watched Suze Orman the other day and she mentioned that the American spirit was broken due to all the hardship so many of us are facing, do you agree? Looking forward to your response.

All the best, William

Dear William,

Interesting week, wasn’t it? I pondered the same question, because first we see

  • the Super Bowl,
  • then Clint Eastwood coming alive on the big screen during halftime with an amazing commercial (yes, I’m aware of the “political controversy”),
  • then we have Suze Orman on a number of TV shows mentioning that “the spirit of Americans has been broken” and then we have
  • a Brit (Piers Morgan) declaring that it’s only the American Spirit that can get us out of this mess.

Question is, who got it right? Well, this might probably the most important questions of all, William. Because when you get to the bottom of it, we can (and should) ask ourselves, what has made us succeed in the past?

What/who helped us to

  • write the declaration of independence?
  • win the war against the Brits (who had the world’s biggest navy at that time)?
  • get through the Great Depression?
  • win two world wars and
  • become the world’s biggest industrial and military power in the process?
  • invent the internet?
  • overcome 9/11 and become a stronger country for it?

No, William, our spirit isn’t broken. I believe it was the philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) who wrote that “Where there is spirit, there is money!” and I couldn’t agree more.

The problem is not that there isn’t enough money or success or spirit in America, the problem is that the system is broken. The money didn’t ‘disappear’ it was ‘transferred’. It’s still there.  Just no longer deposited in your or my savings account/IRA/401K/home value. It’s in other accounts now.

As we bear witness to on TV every night, it’s not corporations nor governments nor armies that make a country strong. It’s always the people. The American Spirit is just coming alive and I would never bet against it. Nor would I ever advise anybody to pick a fight with Clint Eastwood.

Our future is bright, William, we just have some stormy seas ahead of us. No other nation is better equipped to handle them and thrive during difficult times. That’s simply what we do and who we are.

Or – borrowing from Clint’s commercial: We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one.

This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines.

Yeah, it’s halftime America. And, our second half is about to begin.”

Sincerely, Sage

May 13th, 2011

What Can I Tell My Wife?

by AskSage

Hi Sage,

My wife doesn’t understand why I haven’t gotten a job yet. It never took this long in the past. What can I tell her? As you might imagine, I’m really struggling with this one. Looking forward to your response.

Best, Chris

Dear Chris,

I/ we get this question quite often. Most times even the executives themselves don’t know why their job search is taking so long and believe there is something wrong with them, that they might no longer “have what it takes”. This is not what I/we have been seeing when speaking to many tens of thousands of our peers since this company was started almost a decade ago.

Here is the simple (& hard) truth you may share with your better half:

  • Since year 2000  job search times for execs have skyrocketed –to about 23 months at the present  while
  • average tenures  have decreased to about 18 months and
  • age  discrimination starts now at about 42 years of age (versus early to mid  fifties a decade or so ago).
  • Millions of  American jobs were outsourced permanently to countries like China,  India, Mexico etc. -and the executive positions with it.
  • The new jobs  that are being created are non-executive/ often low wage jobs
  • un-and underemployment amongst  senior-level-execs is around 40+% nationwide.
  • For every advertised VP and C-level job  opening companies & recruiters see now many thousands of applications  –versus maybe one hundred or so some 10 years ago.
  • A typical executive today (calculating a  median base salary of $150K+ and the above mentioned job search times and  tenures) makes less money than many truck drivers do in this country.
  • Waiting for that job interview that might or  might not come is simply no longer a smart way of allocating ones resources  (considering the money you burn through during your search with nothing to  show for it).
  • Pursuing alternatives to employment (with or  without our help) and being (again) in charge of your own destiny and earnings  power is incomparably smarter, Chris.

Sincerely, Sage


April 14th, 2011

What is your Hybrid model about?

by AskSage

Dear Sage,

What is your Hybrid model about? How does it differ from VC’s and Angel Investors? Looking forward to your response.

Regards, Tim


Dear Tim,

Great questions.

1) A venture capitalist’s (group) purpose is to invest into promising companies in exchange for as much stock, control and profit share for their capital investment as they can get.

2) An angel investor’s purpose is (typically) to invest into promising young companies he/she falls in love with, believes in their product/service and/or founder(s) and enables these companies to take their business from ideation to conceptualization to being ready to either go to market, or to attract the next round of investors (i.e. VC’s). In exchange they receive stock and- the eternal gratitude of the founder(s). Often angel investors can also be friends and family. Some invest in a multitude of different businesses in order to ‘spread their risk’.

3) Personal Business Advisor’s hybrid model purpose is to identify (typically) younger companies with a promising product/service who are in need of executive talent, and additional working capital to take their company to the next level.

These executives provide their experience/expertise/industry contacts PLUS “skin in the game” in exchange for becoming a partner and six-figure-salaried executive in that company.

As you can see, all three concepts are very different in nature, purpose and approach. Personal Business Advisors invented the hybrid model almost a decade ago and is the only firm in the U.S. to offer these opportunities on a broad base.

If you are interested in learning more about the specifics and explore those hybrid positions that might be a good match for your background and expertise, feel free to contact your/a Personal Business Advisor to set up an appointment for an introductory/matchmaking call. He/she will provide this service at no cost to you.

Sincerely, Sage

Ask Sage A Question

April 7th, 2011

What are my options?

by AskSage


I’m a 53-year-old Sales & Marketing Executive, cannot find a job in my area and prefer not to relocate. What are my options?

I look forward to hearing from you.



Dear Mike,

OK, let’s first understand your challenges, and then discuss your options:

Your  Challenges:

–       It sounds like you are living in an area where the demand for execs with your skill set is low(er).

–       Given that you are 53 years old you will compete with younger (and less expensive) peers for the same positions, which will most likely lead to age discrimination.

–       The job market for senior-level execs in general can only be described as catastrophic (un- and underemployment of 42%+).

–       The longer your search takes, the more of your own capital you lose.


Your Options:

–       Start your own business (just make sure it isn’t consulting, this is what everybody does)

–       Buy someone else’s business (2.5 Million businesses change hands in the U.S. every year and sell typically at 4 to 8 times EBITDA)

–       Become a partner in a business

–       Consider franchising (chose from approximately 2,500+ different franchise systems in the U.S, plus roughly the same in Europe and Asia)

–       Determine if perhaps licensing and/or distributorship is for you. There are thousands to choose from as well.

Discuss with your spouse if she is ‘on board’ with your decision to do something on your own. This is a point that’s very important, because very often spouses don’t understand how bad the job market really is and therefore prefer their partners to ‘keep looking’. Unfortunately this results in burning through their savings –with nothing to show for it- and often end up with little to nothing left to invest into their own future (I call it ‘the point of no return’ and have seen it (too) many times).

As far as cash needed for a six-figure income opportunity, this will range from a low of $15K to “the sky-is-the-limit”, depending on what one wants to and can do.

Once you have made up your mind, “readied” yourself emotionally and mentally, look for someone who can help you through ‘the jungle’ of the tens of thousands of options out there. It’s an adventure worth taking and often will allow the executive to truly live your dreams –while controlling your own destiny.

Mike, most importantly, remember you DO have lot’s of options to chose from. You may want to reach out to your Personal Business Advisor or write to [info @]


Sincerely, Sage


April 5th, 2011

Isn’t franchising basically the food industry?

by AskSage

Hello Sage,

I received an Email yesterday from Personal Business Advisors, which made me think about franchise opportunities for the first time in my career. I have one quick question:

Isn’t franchising basically the food industry?

Best, Louis


Dear Louis,

I believe the perception that franchising consists mostly of restaurants is wide spread.  Their high visibility locations and advertising dollars make us more aware of their existence.

However, they only represent the minority of the franchise opportunities. Most (60% plus) of all franchises are NOT in the food or retail industry. They are service franchises; many of which are white collar with a six-figure income opportunity.

I recommend you share with Senior Advisor what your background, needs, preferences, strengths and weaknesses are. You may be surprised to find out about the number and different nature of franchises that are available that may be a good match for who you are and where you are in life.


Sincerely, Sage

March 31st, 2011

Where do I go from here?

by AskSage

Hi Sage,

Many of my former colleagues and I (all Senior Executives and laid off during the “Great Recession”), cannot secure employment at the career/salary-level we have enjoyed for decades  and have the same question/concern:

Where do I/we go from here? Most of us have kids in high school/college, mortgages to pay etc. and are VERY qualified but cannot find a job –while our savings and 401Ks are literally disappearing in front of our eyes.  What do you suggest I/we do?

Best Regards, David


Dear David,

What you are describing in your Email has become the new norm for today’s Executives. A survey conducted by shows that 42% of our peer group is un- or underemployed –nationwide. Our own experience indicates an even higher number than that.

Many become ‘consultants’ -but are without projects or clients- while actively seeking full-time employment. They are flying and dying under the radar -and are not accounted for by the Labor Department.

When you add to this a current average executive job search time of 23 months, an average tenure of 18 months –and do the math- you’ll find that today’s average VP or C-level Executive makes no more annualized income than a full time truck driver. Add to this rampant age discrimination and you get the picture. It just doesn’t make sense.

Becoming an independent business owner, partner in an existing business, buying into a franchise etc. has become a much more viable strategy for senior-level executives.

You can find many credible six-figure-income opportunities with a good historical track record, that start as low as $12K and can go as high as you wish -or can afford.

David, you and your former colleagues DO have options. They are simply different from what you were used to in the past. You may want to reach out to your Personal Business Advisor or write to [info @]


Sincerely, Sage

March 31st, 2011

Is Age a Factor For Not Finding a Job?

by AskSage


I’d like your opinion on age discrimination. After eight different job interviews and no offers whatsoever, I wonder if my age is the reason for that. I have never had this kind of experience before during my 27-year career.

I’m a 52-year-old VP of Operations with a successful track record in public and privately held logistics companies.

Best, Gary


Dear Gary,

The old saying “If you feel it is true, it probably is” applies –unfortunately- here as well.

Even though age discrimination is illegal in this country, the reality is different -especially for senior-level-executives. When executive recruiters get retained or contingency searches, they hear all too often “don’t bring me anybody with more than 15 years of experience”. In other words, don’t bring me anybody older than forty.

One might argue that this is shortsighted (from a company’s point of view), but as long as quarterly (and annual results) are the only measurements we use to judge a companies’ performance, that won’t change any time soon.

So yes, if you are a senior-level-executive and have reached the tender age of 40+, you will start experiencing some (a lot of?) age discrimination.

Gary, you DO have options. You may want to reach out to your Personal Business Advisor or  write to


Sincerely, Sage